"Could Do Better"

What do your school reports look like and how much of an effect did what teachers wrote about you, have on your life? We all remember our school reports and for many of us they are tucked away in the loft, never to be thrown away. Strangely however, most people will remember at least one or two comments. Like the following celebrities:

“He has glaring faults and they have certainly glared at us this term.” Stephen Fry (expelled from two schools)

“Certainly on the road to failure... hopeless... rather a clown in class... wasting other pupils’ time.” John Lennon

“You can’t make a living out of football.” - Gary Lineker

“He will either go to prison or become a millionaire.” Richard Branson

As we can see from the above, some of the most successful people in our society either failed at school or spent as little time there as possible. Whilst many of us, myself included, cared deeply about what my teachers thought of me and how well I did academically, perhaps what marks out the celebrities above is that they perhaps cared a little less what others thought of them and more about what they wanted personally and where they were going in life.

Is it better to mould ourselves to what the school system tells us we are meant to be and to internalise how others see us or is it better to develop a healthy sense of self-esteem in spite, not because of, what people say about us?

My view is that there is correlation between success in life and healthy self-esteem and that the quicker we learn to build our own sense of self worth, independent of others’ views, the more success we create for ourselves.

I’m sure that the celebrities above were far less concerned by their school reports than most of us would have been. Perhaps our teachers need to be mindful that not all their pupils will be so self-assured and that their words have power - and for this reason, they should choose them wisely.

Rob Salter